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By Larissa Van Beurden, The Tribune, San Luis Obispo, Calif. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Aug. 13--Staying ahead of the game is key to staying afloat in a poor business climate, according to officials at Zurn/Wilkins, one of the largest employers in San Luis Obispo County.
Unlike others in the local manufacturing industry that have either folded or cut back, Zurn Wilkins -- which makes plumbing products in Paso Robles -- has actually grown in the past few years. The recent addition of 15 employees brings its work force up to about 180.
"If you can be successful in the current situation, it will only make you that much stronger in the future," said General Manager Chris Connors.
The company's two biggest product lines -- back flow prevention valves and pressure releasing valves -- pretty much drive the company, Connors said. The devices are used in commercial and residential plumbing and irrigation, and by fire protection districts and municipalities.
Steady customers help keep his business healthy, but Connors also tries to take preventative measures to combat challenges like high insurance, workers compensation and energy rates. Staff employ energy-saving techni...ues in the factory, for example, and get regular safety training and rewards for going long periods without any accidents.
Connors recently talked with The Tribune about what …